I will be based in Brazil for the next 3 and half months staying at the Regua project in the Rio de Janerio state of south east Brazil.
Regua which stands for (Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu) is a non-governmental conservation organisation set up to protect and restore a large area of the Mata Atlantica or Atlantic Rainforest. This is a unique habitat that stretches all the way along the Atlantic coastline from north east Brazil to Uruguay and inland to Argentina and Paraguay.
The Atlantic rainforest is much less well known than huge Amazonian rainforest, and as a result has not received the protection it requires. The forest used to cover 1,477,500 km2 but after decades of deforestation only 7% of this forest remains and only 2% of this is primary forest today making it the second most endangered biome on earth. Only the ecosystems of Madagascar are rarer. This forest is also ranked in the top 5 biodiversity hotspots in the world which shows just how important it is that the remaining 7% is given full protection and areas can be re planted to increase the sustainability of the eco system.
The Regua project protects one of the largest remnants of the forest left and is determined to restore lost habitats, stop over-hunting of dwindling populations and restore lost species. It employs guards to patrol the forest to prevent any illegal extraction and had planted over 38,000 trees by 2008. Natural wetlands also used to be widespread in the region but were drained for agriculture and to eliminate the spread of water borne diseases; however these wetlands were a crucial part of this ecosystem and Regua has successfully restored a flourishing wetland habitat within the Reserve.
The project has also created an environmental education scheme to give local children an awareness of the importance of the forests and hopefully encourage them to protect them in the future.
One of Regua’s aims is to monitor the health of the forest and wetlands and record the species that are returning to the re-created habitats. Researchers and scientists from all over the world have visited the reserve to help research the diversity of species in different taxonomic groups.
Given the high diversity of wildlife and in particular birds, the reserve has created a bird lodge for visitors from around the world to come to and explore the diverse bird assemblages found within the reserve. There have been 455 species recorded so far including 118 Atlantic forest endemics and 62 Brazilian endemics. The lodge is non-profit making with the income going back into the conservation work. Brazil alone has an extremely high percentage of all the bird species in the world with 1700 recorded.
The Regua project is managed by Nicholas and Raquel Locke and has been given funding from the World Land Trust
While I am at Regua I will be acting as a volunteer bird guide for the visitors to the lodge. I hope to regularly post my sightings and news about my experiences on this blog over the coming months.
This is my second visit to Brazil and the first time I have visited the south east region so I hope to find many different species to those I saw during my trip to Mato Grosso in 2010.